Secretarial: The Temp: Two faces are the perfect accessory

`The Temp', is published by Century/Arrow on 7 October, price pounds 5.99
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The Independent Culture
THE FLOWER bill has come in and the shouting has started. Mandy has gone from desk to desk, saying: "Why did you send flowers to that bitch at Bride and Household Digest? You think Luis is going to pay for them after what she said about his spring collection? Are you mad?" Or: "Roses for Suzie Rhinestone, lilies for Mickey Mann! Can't you remember anything? Do I have to do everything around here myself?" Or: "Why are these dated two days after the show?" People are replying: "No, but I'm going to put it on the Pink and Plush account. She was raving about their see-through ra-ras on Tuesday and I thought I'd make sure." Or: "Sorry, Mandy. The roses were for Suzie's assistant, actually." And: "Those were the congratulations ones after the write-up in The Times. The after-show ones are here, look."

London Fashion Week may be over for you, if you ever cared, but in the PR world the mopping-up operation is in full swing. Fashion PRs are a breed apart - shallow, and so caught up in their own image they haven't noticed that pink hair and yellow Lycra really, really don't go with 45- year-old skin.

Mandy is on the phone now. "Jean-Claude?" she says, "Jean-Claude, darling, it's Mandy from Pookie Publicity. We met on Tuesday. Mmm. Wonderful, darling, simply wonderful. I couldn't get over how clever you'd been. Now, listen, my love, I was just wondering if you were happy with the job Vasella is doing for you. Well, I couldn't help but notice that she'd completely failed to keep the split crotch on the PVC hipsters out of the press. Well, I never criticise my colleagues. She's one of my best friends, but I can't help wondering if she's not doing a bit too much of the old, you know, darling," and she sniffs, pointedly.

Behind me, Leezy is on the phone to a journalist. "Of course we don't mind, darling. You have to say what you think, obviously. But Tricia was in floods for days and we wondered if maybe we could send you some of the new collection to try to change your mind. She's doing some wonderful handbags in leopard-print bamboo."

"You would?" asks Mandy, "Well, Jean-Claude, we'd be glad to help, sweetie. Not a word to Vasella, of course. Mwaah, mwaah," she blows kisses into the receiver; "missing you already." She hangs up then picks up an incoming call from the other side of the room. "Victor, darling! My favourite client! Oh, of course I wouldn't just say that. So how do you feel, my love? Aren't you proud of yourself? By far the best show of the season... I think I've already got you a profile in Vogue, darling. Vogue! Can you imagine?"

Leezy continues: "No, well, of course, you're one of my favourite writers, and we're always delighted by any support you give us..."

Mandy has gone all quiet and cold. "Oh, she did, did she? And you believed that? Well. Obviously I can't stop you, but I think you ought to know that not even God himself could have stopped the reviews you got for your pointless collection. Fashion? Bin-liners, more like!"

And with that, each hangs up, and the word "Bitch!" spits from their mouths like olive stones. "Bloody journalists," snarls Leezy, then, "Mands! What happened?"

"That bitch Vasella just poached Victor right out from under my nose! Rang him and suggested I wasn't doing my job properly, and he believed her!"

"The cheek!" Leezy cries. "Bitch," cries Mandy. And they both pick up the phone.